Italy doesn’t often come to mind when considering destinations for future surf trips, but when combined with the country’s culture, food and architecture, the surf on the Mediterranean can make for an interesting adventure. And don’t think that Italy is just for honeymooners looking to score waves on the sly. One viewing of Timmy Curran’s section in the travel/surf film Sipping Jetstreams should convince even the most dubious skeptic that Italy can pump—you just have to know where to be and when to be there.
The Surf: Short interval beach breaks and points for the most part—but you’d be surprised at how good the waves can actually get. In general, this is a beginner to intermediate surf destination.
Five Waves Worth Surfing:
- Banzai: An optimistically named spot to be sure, Banzai is one of Italy’s few waves that breaks over reef (its only similarity to Hawaii’s Pipeline). A left and right peak, this wave suffers from crowding more than the area beach breaks by merit of its small takeoff zone.
- Santa Augostino: A lengthy lefthand sand point that can get quite good under the right conditions.
- Levanto: A relatively sheltered bay that needs large swell to pump, Levanto can hold swell up to double overhead+, making it one of Italy’s bigger waves.
- Sardinia: One of Italy’s two island surf destinations, Sardinia holds some of the best surf in the Mediterranean, with a number of beach and reef break options.
- Sicily: Italy’s other island outpost, Sicily has a handful of fun spots—and a dodgy reputation for Mafiosos.
The Water: The Mediterranean doesn’t contain the clearest water in the world, but it does have its moments, especially away from developed areas. Temperatures can vary drastically by season, from 57 to 75 F (14 to 24 C)
The Season: Surfing in the Mediterranean requires a lot of flexibility, as swells are very short lived, typically lasting less than a day. Winter sees bigger storms, but this can be a double-edged sword. Summer can go flat for weeks at a time. As with most places, fall (September through November) is your best bet.
The Vibe: The top spots can get quite crowded when they are good, but for the most part the local scene is pretty mellow.
Things To Do: What to do in Italy? Here are a few ideas: Rome, Venice, Florence, Cinque Terra, Milan, Pisa. That should keep you busy for a year or so.
Where To Stay: There are many hostels and hotels available in Italy, but for a truly flexible and convenient way to see the country, consider renting a caravan.
What To Bring: A shortboard with a bit of extra volume and a longboard as a backup. A thickish wetsuit if you are coming in winter. A taste for vino, pasta and high fashion. Lots of patience.
Getting There: Major airports near the coast include Rome, Naples, Pisa and Genoa, but you can also fly into Sardinia (Calgliari) and Sicily (Palermo). Visas are unnecessary for citizens of many countries. Airport codes: FCO (Rome), FLR (Florence), PSA (Pisa), GOA (Genoa), CAG (Calgliari) and PMO (Palermo).